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The Ten Essentials

The Ten Essentials


When was 11 years old, My father along with the local City Council, Chartered a Boys Scouts of America Troop.

As I was the right age, along with 28 other young fells. I joined the troop.  I can still remember that Wednesday evenings events. We received our uniforms, Patches to sewn on, and out Scout Handbook. I got home after the meeting and read the entire Handbook the first night. It was the beginning of Summer, so I didn’t have to be at School the next day.  I was so excited. I remember turning the pages again to the camping Chapter of the Handbook. And reading the lists of equipment that we would need to go camping.  I then found the list of essentials that would be needed for daily hikes, and life in the outdoors. I lived in the outdoors. Every day I was in the woods behind out house, roaming through the thick vegetation, crossing creaks, and breathing in the forest air. I loved it.


I slowing gathered the equipment I’d need to carry with me on my daily hikes in the woods. Of course the most important for a young scout was his scout knife. That was my first goal. But not my last.

To this day I carry the same list of essentials that I read about so many years ago. Some people refer to them as their EDC or Every Day Carry. I just refer to the list as the 10 Essentials.


  1. Water Bottle. This can be any container to transport water inside of. My first was an Army Canteen. Little did I know, but I carried two on my web belt for ten years while serving in the Army. I would suggest you carry what you will need. We need at least 3 liters of water per day. But I’ve been to hotter places where up to 7 liters were drank to survive. To lighten my load I might carry 1 liter but also carry water purification tables and or a water filter. So if I were to run out and found water in nature, I could purify it so as not to become ill.
  2. Extra Clothing. Because the temperatures can change quickly, I will tend to carry some kind of insulated shirt or jacket for a day hike. Often the day may be very warm, but the afternoon or evening will cool down. Also, after you’ve hiked for several hours, you will sweat. Once you stop, you may cool down, and adding a layer of clothing will make you more comfortable, and protect you from the differences in temperature. Long sleeve fleece, or wool shirt. Fresh wool socks, a wool hat or cap, and gloves.
  3. Sun Protection. Now of course even in the winter, and on a cloudy day the sun can still burn your exposed skin. Save yourself from an uncomfortable evening by covering your exposed skin with the correct SPF level of sun lotion. I myself use a 30 or 50 SPF. I add this sun screen to my First Aid Kit. That way it always with me. A good large brim light in weight hat is also a good choice to carry into the outdoors. Along with a pair of sunglasses.
  4. First Aid Kit. A good kit can save your life. But it will only work if you know how to use what you carry. So not only carry the correct items you need, but learn how to use them correctly. I will also add medicines, Sun Screen, Lip Balm, Insect repellant, Tick Kit etc.. in my kit.
  5. Flashlight, and other signaling devices. I carry a good Head Lamp with me, along with extra batteries. I prefer a head lamp so as my hands are free to work. And I also add a whistle to my kit to help in signaling in an emergency. Be aware of the Help or destress codes need to use in an emergency. Remember, if help is needed, three strong sharp blasts on the whistle, or three flashes on the lamp.
  6. Trail Food. Always carry some snacks, but not just anything. Carry snacks that are good for you, and nutritious for your body. And carry extra. Put them inside a zip lock bag to protect them from the weather, and is case something should open up on it own, it won’t get over the inside of your back pack.
  7. Rain Gear. Always have something to cover you from the wet weather. A good light weight jacket and pants will not only keep you dry in wet weather, but as it rains, the temperature will lower and the jacket and pants will help keep you warmer. If you feel too warm wearing it, open the pockets, and under the army pits. Loosen around the wrists, and waist. There are some good light weight models out there I recommend. Breathable is best. A poncho will also work great, and can be used to make a shelter, or to cover yourself up in.
  8. Map, Compass Notepad and Pencil. Always carry a Topographic Map of the area you will be hiking in. And carry a good compass. Be aware that if the area you are hiking in is along the border of your map sheet, that you need to carry the map sheet for the bordering area. Insure that you understand and are proficient using a map and compass. And understand the major and minor features on a map. The notepad and pencil are there for you to note down things you find on the trail, and to note your daily adventures. You can also use the Pad and paper to leave messages if needed.
  9. I never leave home without a pocket knife. There are lots of styles and models to carry. I suggest a simple model, and stay away from the tactical or fashionable knives found on the market. Get something that works. A Swiss Army Knife has many uses, a simple Folding knife, a Multitool. Or a simple fixed blade will work very well. But be aware, If the blade isn’t sharpe then the knife is just a piece of useless weight in your pocket. So learn to sharpen and maintain your knife.
  10. Fire Lighting Kit. Make sure to carry something to make a fire with. It there for many reasons. To build a fire for warmth. For light, a signal. To cook food. Or even just to have a center point to give you comfort. Carry at least three forms of firelighters on you in your kit. I carry a Lighter, Matches, Fire Stick or Rod. I also carry the knowledge of how to make fire by friction using materials I find in the wild. Carry some tinder with you. Eight bought or hand made. Some cotton balls dipped in Vaseline will work great. I also carry a few tea candles, and some fat wood. A Magnifying glass, also will help you make a fire on a sunny day.
  11. Last thing to add is the container you carry your essentials in. This can been any sort of bag or sack. But what I find that works best is a 30 liter backpack. <I never carry a pack that is perfect for the job. I prefer to carry a pack that is a little larger. This way, I can add more, or use to carry tinder, or other items I might find on the trial I may need. And the pack will work all seasons. Try not to carry items outside of your pack. This is a good way to loose, damage to get something wet in the rain, if you find your pack is too small. Get a larger pack. Also, wear the right clothes when you go out in the outdoors. Wool socks, correct footwear, and stay away from cotton. Wear clothing that is resistant, and dries quickly. Nothing worst than wearing a wet t-shirt. And cotton socks that hold onto humidity.


So, this is my list. Feel free to add to it. I do, depending on the season. But don’t take away from it. You might not need something inside of it when you’re hiking today. But you never know about the future.

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